The Los Angeles Chargers will try to avoid their first 0- 3 start since 2003 when they play at StubHub Center Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, who Chargers coach Anthony Lynn calls “the best team in the National Football League.”
The 2-0 Chiefs lead the league in yards per play (7.59), are second in yards per game (440.5), rushing yards per game (148.5) and red zone touchdown percentage (83.3) and third in scoring with 34.5 points per game.
“Because we’re 0-2 right now, it’s a very important game for us,” Lynn said. “If we beat this team, what does this say about us? We’ve been in both of our games so we feel like we can play with anybody.”
Kansas City rookie running back Kareem Hunt led the league in rushing entering play in Week 3 with 229 yards. (Carlos Hyde of the San Francisco 49ers and Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams, who both played Thursday, moved past Hunt with 253 yards and 241.)
Hunt has scored five touchdowns in his first two games. The only player with more touchdowns in his first two games was Dutch Sternaman, who had six touchdowns while playing for the Decatur Staleys in the league’s inaugural 1920 season.
“He’s a very instinctive, good football player,” Lynn said of Hunt, who was drafted in the third round out of Toledo.
“He’s not the type of kid that goes to the combine and measure well and run well, but he’s just a football player. He’s doing what he’s always done. He’s been very consistent and productive his whole life.”
The Chargers have lost six consecutive games to the Chiefs since 2014, including 33-27 and 37-27 losses last season.
Both Charger losses this season have been by three points or less.
They opened the season with a 24-21 loss to the Denver Broncos Sept. 11. They appeared to have tied the game on a 44-yard field goal by Younghoe Koo, on the rookie’s first NFL field goal attempt, but Denver called a time out just before the kick with five seconds left. The second kick was blocked.
Koo missed a 44-yard field goal with five seconds left last Sunday in a 19-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Koo also missed a 43-yard field goal with 30 seconds remaining in the first half.
An injury and an illness have resulted in two new members of the Chargers 53-player active roster since the Miami game.
The Chargers signed Tyler Marz from the Tennessee Titans practice squad Wednesday after placing fellow offensive lineman Chris Harrison on the reserve/non-football illness list because of an undisclosed illness, sidelining him for the remainder of the season.
Cornerback Jason Verrett was placed on the reserve/injured list Saturday because of a knee injury. Linebacker Nick Dzubnar was promoted from the practice squad to fill Verrett’s spot on the roster.
The 6-foot-7-inch, 316-pound Marz spent the 2016 season and first two weeks of the 2017 season on Tennessee’s practice squad. He was a teammate of Chargers running back Melvin Gordon and fullback Derek Watt at Wisconsin.
Verrett began training camp on the physically unable to perform list after being sidelined for the final 12 games of the 2016 season because of a partially torn ACL he was unable to pinpoint when it occurred.
Verrett played in the third preseason game, making an interception, and in 63 of 69 defensive plays and four on special teams in the opener against Denver.
Verrett participated in the first practice before the Miami game, then missed the next two and the game. He did not participate in any of the three practices leading up to the Kansas City game.
“It was never right in my opinion just watching him in practice,” Lynn said. “But he’s such a competitor (that) he kept wanting to go out, save himself and play the first week. But he wasn’t able to play to his standard. So we just want him to get healthy.”
Verrett was the Chargers Defensive Player of the Year in 2015 and played in the Pro Bowl following the season
Dzubnar is a Mission Viejo High alumnus made the Chargers as an undrafted free agent out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2015, playing all 16 games that season. He played the first four games of the 2016 season, then was sidelined the remainder of the season because of a knee injury.
The Chiefs roster includes two players who played on the high school level in Los Angeles County — offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz (Palisades) and receiver De’Anthony Thomas (Crenshaw). Coach Andy Reid is an alumnus of John Marshall High in Los Feliz.
Throughout the game, the Chargers will highlight NFL Play60, the league- wide initiative focused on increasing the wellness of young fans by encouraging them to be active for at least 60 minutes a day.
Chargers Play60 youth ambassadors will be invited onto the field during both pregame ceremonies and at halftime.
Members of the Agoura-Oak Park Chargers Youth Football team will get the opportunity to run through the Chargers tunnel and join players for the national anthem, which will be sung by Tinashe, an American singer-songwriter, dancer, actress and record producer.
The High School Quarterback Challenge will be held at halftime. The participants are Jaja Bellinger (Carson); Matt Corral (Long Beach Poly); Cooper Jones (El Toro); Griffin O’Connor (Edison); and Brevin White (Paraclete).
Corral has committed to Florida, O’Connor to Yale and White to Princeton.
The winner will have an opportunity to meet Pro Football Hall of Fame member LaDainian Tomlinson.
“American Ninja Warrior” host Akbar Gbaja-Biamila will fire the Chargers Cannon just before the opening kickoff. Gbaja-Biamila played three games for the Chargers as a defensive end in 2006 as part of a 22-game NFL career with three teams.
–City News Service
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